Can art learn from hockey? If the artist had the same level of interest, crowds cheering them on, everybody jumping on the bandwagon to raise funds for a facility, children encouraged to learn to paint, act, dance, become involved with the arts community.
Cold Lake has always had a large art community in the past and there are a number of excellent artists here today, unrecognized and not encouraged by the powers that be.
The first art organization was the Grand Centre Art Society, formed in 1976. This group flourished until 1989, when membership declined, mostly because of the transient nature of this area—people moving away. It was disbanded.
In 1982 there was also the Cold Lake Artisans Guild. This consisted of a variety of artists: potters, carvers, painters, stained glass, a weaver. Artists gathered together to display their work in vacant stores in Cold Lake. They existed about five years.
Though there wasn’t a formal art organization for several years there was always very popular art courses offered by various artists, local and sometimes workshops by U of A Extension instructors, for children and adults.
In all these previous years there never was a designated spot for meetings or classes. Meetings were held in members’ homes. Various places were sometimes available for classes: the old curling rink, school classrooms, any place that would accommodate this type of activity. For a few years painting classes took place in the old Grand Centre town hall basement which was ideal. A pottery club was planned but never took off. There was a kiln there for several years.
The Cold Lake Visual Arts Society was informally started in 1998. All the artists in the area were called upon to put on a show and display their art in a vacant building in downtown Grand Centre. This was an excellent display, showcasing all the local talent. Later in the year 2000 the CLVAS (Cold Lake Visual Arts Society) was incorporated and became an official organization with 30 members to start. Meetings again were held in members homes and any place that was available. The St. Dominic Church hall was used for a time for members to meet weekly, to paint, discuss art, or mentor each other.
There existed a public Art Gallery in the old Leisure Sport Village which was lost when the LSV was converted into the new city hall.
In 2004 the owner of Beantrees restaurant, wishing to support the arts, offered CLVAS the use of the back room of the restaurant. Classes were offered, workshops, meetings, and a gallery space to display work. This flourished until new owners took over and CLVAS was homeless again.
At this time the Cold Lake Agricultural Society offered us the room upstairs in the Agriplex to meet, hold classes, and paint together where it remains to this day.
Over the years the CLVAS has been told various places would be available but never any follow through i.e. the Energy centre was incorporating a cultural component. CLVAS was asked to submit an outline of its needs, and did. Even at one time we were told that there might be a space available in the old Cold Lake fire station, and two rooms were available at the Energy Centre that CLVAS could have had, but Covid hit and these rooms were made into city offices.
Now in 2022 after the pandemic is slowing down, CLVAS after 24 years is facing extinction. It is being held together by a handful of artists, there being little or no interest in an arts organization from other artists or the public. These artists are trying to keep it alive for the community. Our mandate is “ to encourage the development of original visual art in the community, through education and exhibition.”
CLVAS has always had a dream of uniting all the arts, hence the name Cold Lake Visual “Arts” Society. A small amount of money, saved when we were able, has been allocated for an arts complex.
CLVAS has always paid for the use of a facility, if necessary.
One of the things that makes a well-balanced and attractive city is its cultural component, like a theatre for local use and to feature acts and performances from elsewhere; or a public art gallery not only featuring work by locals but art shows by national and international artists. These add some sophistication and culture to any community.
Not everybody is a sports enthusiast. Not every child wants to play hockey or any sport.
Can we fundraise? Yes, and we have, when there was more interest and Articipaction.
So… WHAT ABOUT US?
Editor’s note: This submission is a response to the column “Can art learn from hockey?”, which appeared in the August 9 issue of Respect.